From vacuum to military vehicle

iRobot Corp. plans to adapt the artificial intelligence technology used in its Roomba vacuums and portable PackBot military robots for a semi-autonomous John Deere battlefield vehicle.


Military Robotic Gator, or R-Gator, has three basic modes: autonomous, remote control or manually driven by onboard people.

It will be able to relay real-time video, audio and sensor readings from the field, for perimeter patrols, for reconnaissance or carrying supplies.

While the Pentagon is expected to be the first customer, the developers hope R-Gator could be used elsewhere to respond to chemical spills or patrol borders.

For the first time, a military robotic vehicle will be using off-the-shelf technology. But the partnership also signifies a maturation in robotics.

“These kinds of alliances would not have been viable 10 to 15 years ago, when those technologies weren’t capable or the markets weren’t ready for them,” said William Whittaker, a robotics professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

Via MSNBC News.
Press Release.